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‘No impunity’: Mexican president vows justice for migrants killed in fire

Fatima Pavon, 12, a migrant girl from Venezuela, takes part in a vigil outside the office of the National Institute of Migration (INM) in memory of the victims of a fire that broke out at a migrant detention center, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, March 28, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has vowed to bring to justice those responsible for the death of more than three dozen refugees in a fire incident at a refugee holding center in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez this week.

Lopez Obrador said at his daily press briefing on Wednesday there would be "no impunity" for those found responsible for the death by fire of 38 migrants at a detention center.

"We will not hide anything and there will be no impunity," he said after the disaster at a detention center near the border late Monday.

The president said those found to have been responsible for "causing this painful tragedy will be punished in conformity with the law."

A fire believed to have been started by migrants protesting against their deportation killed at least 38 people and injured several others in Ciudad Juarez.

Mexican authorities said the group included people from Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, El Salvador, Colombia and Ecuador.

Video surveillance footage, appearing to be security footage from inside the center during the blaze, shows guards at the detention center leaving as flames engulfed a cell with migrants trapped inside.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a "thorough investigation."

Ciudad Juarez, which neighbors El Paso, Texas, is one of the border towns where numerous undocumented migrants seeking refuge in the United States remain stranded.

According to a recent report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), since 2014, some 7,661 migrants have died or disappeared en route to the US while 988 died in accidents or while traveling in difficult conditions.  

The administration of President Joe Biden has tried to curb the flow of migrants and asylum seekers into the US by introducing tougher, harsher restrictions.

According to these new regulations, migrants will no longer be eligible for asylum if they simply cross into the United States at the border. Instead, they must first apply for asylum in one of the countries they pass through, or they can do so online using an app from the US government.

Every month, about 200,000 people attempt to cross the Mexican-American border mostly from Central and South America, requesting asylum.

The Biden administration has faced blistering criticism from immigrant advocates and progressive Democratic leaders who have urged the president to do more to uphold his government's responsibility towards refugees and asylum seekers.

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